The MMA landscape is always in flux with promotions putting on fight cards more frequently than ever. Whether it’s the UFC, Bellator MMA or international promotions like ONE FC, fighters are constantly jockeying for position on the ladder of title contention and in the eyes (and rankings) of the fans and media.

Every month, The MMA Corner’s writing staff will rank each weight class from heavyweight to flyweight, as well as their pound-for-pound rankings. The staff’s individual rankings will then be compiled to determine each month’s overall rankings for the entire site. See below for this month’s edition of The MMA Corner’s Fighter Rankings.

Note: The number in parentheses represents the fighter’s ranking from last month.

Heavyweight
  1. Cain Velasquez (1)

    Josh Barnett proved he belongs in the top five with his destruction of Mir. (Esther Lin/MMA Fighting)

  2. Junior dos Santos (2)
  3. Daniel Cormier (3)
  4. Fabricio Werdum (4)
  5. Josh Barnett (5)
  6. Antonio “Bigfoot” Silva (7)
  7. Travis Browne (-)
  8. Mark Hunt (8)
  9. Stipe Miocic (10)
  10. Alistair Overeem (6)

*Dropped from rankings: Frank Mir (9)

Although the top of the heavyweight ranks will remain the same until champion Cain Velasquez and Junior dos Santos can settle their trilogy in October, the UFC’s busy schedule has resulted in a number of changes to the rest of the top 10. The promotion’s debut on Fox Sports 1 saw Travis Browne bounce back from early adversity against former Strikeforce and K-1 kingpin Alistair Overeem and score a vicious front-kick knockout. The win vaulted Browne up the rankings and leaves Overeem—who has suffered back-to-back knockout losses—on the edge of the rankings. Also making an impact on the rankings this month was the UFC 164 co-main event between former UFC champions Josh Barnett and Frank Mir. Despite more than a decade away from the promotion, Barnett quickly cemented his place in the top five with a lopsided TKO win over Mir. The loss marked the third straight defeat for Mir, who now drops out of the top 10.

Writer’s take – Bryan Henderson, ranking Travis Browne at No. 7: “Browne’s stock rises with the win against Overeem, but he has some big names ahead of him in the top 10.”
Light Heavyweight
  1. Jon Jones (1)

    Phil Davis stays put despite his UFC 163 decision win over Lyoto Machida (Esther Lin/MMA Fighting)

  2. Alexander Gustafsson (3)
  3. Glover Teixeira (4)
  4. Lyoto Machida (2)
  5. Phil Davis (5)
  6. Rashad Evans (7)
  7. Antonio Rogerio Nogueira (9)
  8. Gegard Mousasi (8)
  9. Dan Henderson (10)
  10. Mauricio “Shogun” Rua (6)

The month of August did not result in any new entries to the light heavyweight top 10, but a pair of bouts certainly shifted the landscape of the title picture going forward. UFC 163 at the beginning of the month saw fifth-ranked Phil Davis eke out a controversial decision win over former 205-pound champion Lyoto Machida. The loss crippled Machida’s hopes of getting another crack at champion Jon Jones, at least for the time being. Ironically, Davis’ win was not enough to propel him ahead of Machida, but the controversial nature of his win is likely a factor in that. The other fight that resulted in a significant change to the rankings was the UFC Fight Night 26 main event between Chael Sonnen and former UFC and Pride champion Mauricio “Shogun” Rua. Sonnen became the first to submit the Brazilian with a first-round guillotine, which sent Shogun tumbling down the rankings to the fringe of the top 10. Once again though, the rankings may not tell the whole story. Much like the official UFC rankings, Sonnen’s ranking is affected by his talk of moving back to the middleweight division where he has twice challenged for the 185-pound belt. Although he does not appear in the consensus top 10 of this division this month, the staff generally agrees that Sonnen is worthy of a top-10 ranking once he settles on a weight class.

Writer’s take – Josh Davis, ranking Mauricio Rua at No. 9: “At one time he was one of the best in the world, now it looks like his best days are behind him.”
Middleweight
  1. Chris Weidman (1)

    Ronaldo "Jacare" Souza returns to the cage on Sept. 4 (Jerry Chavez/The MMA Corner)

  2. Anderson Silva (2)
  3. Vitor Belfort (3)
  4. Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza (4)
  5. Yushin Okami (5)
  6. Michael Bisping (6)
  7. Luke Rockhold (7)
  8. Mark Munoz (8)
  9. Hector Lombard (9)
  10. Chael Sonnen (-)

*Dropped from rankings: Costa Philippou (10)

In large part, it was a quiet month for the upper tier of the 185-pound weight class. Outside of Sonnen’s bout at light heavyweight, the entire top 10 was out of action in August. That will change dramatically in the coming months as No. 4-ranked Ronaldo “Jacare” Souza will battle No. 5-ranked Yushin Okami at UFC Fight Night 28 on Sept. 4, No. 7-ranked Luke Rockhold meets Tim Boetsch at UFC 166 on Oct. 19, and No. 6-ranked Michael Bisping will take on No. 8-ranked Mark Munoz at UFC Fight Night 30 on Oct. 26. Additionally, look for No. 9-ranked Hector Lombard to make his welterweight debut on Oct. 19.

Writer’s take – Brian McKenna, ranking Chael Sonnen at No. 4: “Sure he beat Rua at 205, but it wouldn’t be shocking to see him drop back down to 185.”
Welterweight
  1. Georges St-Pierre (1)

    Carlos Condit (L) throws a head kick (Esther Lin/MMA Fighting)

  2. Johny Hendricks (2)
  3. Carlos Condit (3)
  4. Demian Maia (4)
  5. Rory MacDonald (5)
  6. Ben Askren (6)
  7. Jake Ellenberger (8)
  8. Robbie Lawler (9)
  9. Martin Kampmann (7)
  10. Matt Brown (-)

*Dropped from rankings: Tarec Saffiedine (10)

The welterweight division wasn’t the busiest of the weight classes in August, but it certainly had some intriguing bouts that are reflected in the rankings. Most notably, Matt “The Immortal” Brown cracks the top 10 after scoring his sixth straight win at UFC Fight Night 26 against Mike Pyle. The 29-second demolition has thrown Brown’s name into the hat of potential contenders at 170 pounds. The top 10 was also affected by the UFC Fight Night 27 main event between No.3-ranked Carlos Condit and No. 9-ranked Martin Kampmann. The pair met four years prior in Condit’s promotional debut, with Kampmann eking out a decision win. There was no need for the scorecards this time around as Condit dismantled Kampmann en route to a fourth-round TKO win. Condit has a firm hold on the No. 3 spot in the division, but with losses to both Georges St-Pierre and Johny Hendricks in the last year, he’ll have to keep working to earn another shot at the belt.

Writer’s take – Rob Tatum, ranking Matt Brown at No. 10: “If you had told me in the summer of 2010 that Matt Brown would eventually reel off six straight wins and vault into my top 10, I would’ve had you committed. What a turnaround.”
Lightweight
  1. Anthony Pettis (3)

    Rafael dos Anjos is working up the ranks (Dave Mandel/Sherdog)

  2. Benson Henderson (1)
  3. Gilbert Melendez (2)
  4. T.J. Grant (4)
  5. Michael Chandler (5)
  6. Josh Thomson (6)
  7. Pat Healy (7)
  8. Gray Maynard (8)
  9. Eddie Alvarez (9)
  10. Rafael dos Anjos (-)

*Dropped from rankings: Donald Cerrone (10)

It was a huge month for the lightweight division, as Anthony Pettis and Benson Henderson met in a rematch of their epic WEC 53 title fight that saw Pettis become the final champion of the promotion. Pettis once again dethroned Henderson at UFC 164—this time to claim UFC gold—but in much more convincing fashion. Pettis’ first-round armbar locked up his place atop the rankings and will send Henderson back to the drawing board. But that wasn’t all that took place in the 155-pound division in August. Brazilian Rafael dos Anjos put in a workmanlike performance against Donald Cerrone at UFC Fight Night 27 to steal the 10th spot in the rankings. Also of note, Bellator MMA re-signed No.9-ranked Eddie Alvarez and has scheduled a title rematch with No. 5-ranked Michael Chandler for November.

Writer’s take – Rob Tatum, ranking Anthony Pettis at No. 1: “It’s time to give credit where credit is due. Pettis is the best lightweight fighter in the world and he proved it against Henderson.”
Featherweight
  1. Jose Aldo (1)

    Chad Mendes stated his case for a title shot (Esther Lin/MMA Fighting)

  2. Chad Mendes (3)
  3. Pat Curran (2)
  4. Frankie Edgar (4)
  5. Tatsuya Kawajiri (6)
  6. Ricardo Lamas (5)
  7. Cub Swanson (8)
  8. Chan Sung Jung (7)
  9. Dustin Poirier (9)
  10. Nik Lentz (-)

*Dropped from rankings: Clay Guida (10)

Without question, the 145-pound division was the most active in August. At the top of the ladder, UFC featherweight champion Jose Aldo defended his belt against No. 8-ranked Chan Sung Jung, scoring a fourth-round TKO of the South Korean. Chad Mendes vaulted back into the No. 2 spot after becoming the first fighter to finish Clay Guida with strikes. Mendes’ fourth straight knockout win was a strong case for another shot at the Brazilian Aldo. The loss dropped Guida out of the top 10, allowing Nik Lentz to crack the rankings for the first time. No. 9 Dustin Poirier battled Erik Koch in a long-awaited match-up, with Poirier getting the best of the Roufusport fighter.

Writer’s take – Bryan Henderson, ranking Chan Sung Jung at No. 8: “Just like so many before him, ‘The Korean Zombie’ came up short versus Aldo.”
Bantamweight
  1. Renan Barao (1)

    Michael McDonald impressed by finishing Pickett (Jeff Sherwood/Sherdog)

  2. Urijah Faber (2)
  3. Michael McDonald (3)
  4. Bibiano Fernandes (4)
  5. Eddie Wineland (6)
  6. Dominick Cruz (5)
  7. Raphael Assuncao (9)
  8. Scott Jorgensen (8)
  9. Brad Pickett (7)
  10. Eduardo Dantas (10)

Another month with Dominick Cruz on the shelf and another month where his descent down the rankings continues. No. 2-ranked Urijah Faber edged Brazilian Yuri Alcantara at UFC Fight Night 26 on Aug. 17 to continue his march back to the top. Third-ranked Michael McDonald scored the most impressive win of the month, submitting No. 9 Brad Pickett via triangle choke. While the rest of the division was fairly quiet, business picks up in September as top-ranked UFC interim champion Renan Barao defends his belt against Eddie Wineland at UFC 165.

Writer’s take – Josh Davis, ranking Urijah Faber at No. 3: “Faber has returned to his dominant form, but I still don’t think he can beat Cruz or Barao.”
Flyweight
  1. Demetrious Johnson (1)

    Tim Elliott put on a show at UFC 164 (Esther Lin/MMA Fighting)

  2. Joseph Benavidez (2)
  3. John Dodson (3)
  4. Ian McCall (4)
  5. Jussier “Formiga” da Silva (5)
  6. Darrell Montague (6)
  7. John Moraga (7)
  8. John Lineker (9)
  9. Tim Elliott (-)
  10. Jose Maria Tome (-)

*Dropped from rankings: Louis Gaudinot (8), Yasuhiro Urushitani (10)

The flyweight landscape is starting to get very interesting. The UFC has signed No. 6-ranked Darrell Montague, who will debut against John Dodson at UFC 166 in October. Second-ranked Joseph Benavidez will take on Brazilian Jussier Formiga at UFC Fight Night 28 on Sept. 4 with title implications on the line. In the bottom half of the ranks, there were numerous changes. Eighth-ranked John Lineker topped Jose Maria Tome at UFC 163, giving him three straight wins in the Octagon. However, Lineker failed to make weight for the second time in his UFC tenure and may have hurt his chances for a title shot. Tome’s effort—even in defeat—has helped him crack the top 10. Also debuting in the rankings is Tim Elliott, who battered previously ranked Louis Gaudinot at UFC 164 to put himself in the conversation at 125 pounds.

Writer’s take – Bryan Henderson, ranking Darrell Montague at No. 6: “It’s about damn time the UFC signed him. He’s a potential star for the division.”
Pound-For-Pound
  1. Jon Jones (1)

    Jon Jones will defend his title at UFC 165 (James Law/Heavy MMA)

  2. Georges St-Pierre (2)
  3. Anderson Silva (3)
  4. Jose Aldo (4)
  5. Demetrious Johnson (6)
  6. Cain Velasquez (7)
  7. Renan Barao (9)
  8. Ronda Rousey (8)
  9. Junior dos Santos (10)
  10. Anthony Pettis (-)

*Dropped from rankings: Benson Henderson (5)

Pettis’ big win at UFC 164 has shuffled the pound-for-pound rankings. The former champion Henderson has been ousted from the top 10 with his submission loss and Pettis now slides into the No. 10 slot. Only Pettis and featherweight champion Jose Aldo were active during the month, but the remaining eight fighters in the top 10 all have fights scheduled before the end of the year. First up will be top-ranked Jon Jones, who defends his belt against Alexander Gustafsson in September at UFC 165. No. 7-ranked Renan Barao also puts his belt on the line at the same event.

Writer’s take – Rob Tatum, ranking Jose Aldo at No. 1: “Aldo has proven time and again that he’s the most complete fighter on the planet. Even with a broken foot, he easily defended his belt at UFC 163 and a trip to the lightweight division may be next for the Brazilian.”

Top Photo: Anthony Pettis (Esther Lin/MMA Fighting)

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The MMA Corner Staff

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